MUSHY'S MOOCHINGS: SAYING A FINAL GOODBYE TO UNCLE TOM AND REKINDELING OLD RELATIONSHIPS

Friday, October 16, 2009

SAYING A FINAL GOODBYE TO UNCLE TOM AND REKINDELING OLD RELATIONSHIPS


Within fourteen hours of being told he had a “mass” on his kidney and liver, Uncle Tom passed away quietly in a Florence, Alabama hospital last week. On Wednesday evening the family gathered to support Aunt Carolyn (and each other) in her grief. She had gone home to get a few things to make her overnight stay in the hospital room more comfortable; when she got the call telling her Tom had slipped away. She feels badly that she wasn’t there, but he was talking to her when she left. It was quite a shock to everyone and only began sinking in at the funeral services on Thursday morning.

It was too quick for the family, but quick enough that he didn’t suffer.

The family gathered on a hillside in Sheffield, Alabama, just across the river from Florence, to say goodbye. Uncle Tom served in the United States Air Force for over 20 years, so the Air Force sent a detail to the funeral. It was a very touching funeral with taps, an honor guard firing rounds in the air, the flag being removed and folded, and finally being presented to Aunt Carolyn.

After the pastor read from the Bible and said his prayer, the pallbearers filed by and left their boutonnières on top of the coffin.

The earlier service was marked by one of his granddaughters reading a poem she had written, one of his daughters reading letters received from friends who couldn’t make it, and a prayer Tom had written in his personal Bible. I read a few words that were heavy on my heart that centered on the “black pepper” incident I once posted.

As is normal for most extended families, we don’t see each other more than a couple of times each year, sometimes its twenty years, and more often than not, the circumstances revolve around a tragedy. The Cousins” enjoyed seeing each other and we always take the time to take a group shot. We were missing a few in this one, but we are discussing an annual reunion that will keep us in touch. I’ve also encouraged Facebook as a means of staying involved in each others lives, and I have already added several cousins to my “relatives” list.

I don’t know what it is about the “cousins”, but they always make me “act up” and this gathering was no different. I was going around taking one handed photos of me and various cousins…usually the girls for some reason, and having a great time making them laugh.

Happy as we were, we missed, and will miss, Uncle Tom. For the past couple of decades he has kept the family close, taking grandmother’s place as the focal point for our family. It’s now up to us to keep the relationship going. I’m hoping Facebook and a possible annual reunion will do the trick. Otherwise, there is no doubt that we will drift further and further apart. Since we still enjoy “playing” with each other, as we did as kids, that would be an even worse tragedy.

9 comments:

Buck said...

RIP, MSgt Tom.

Marian Love Phillips said...

So sorry to hear about your Uncle Tom...I know he will be sadly missed by you and your family. You have my sympathy.

BRUNO said...

We're ALL here, if ya' need to "vent" things.

But ya' already knew that...

FHB said...

Those are always sad times. Glad y'all may be able to keep in touch. Hope your mom is doin' OK.

Mushy said...

Mom is sick today...always gets sick going to Alabama for some reason. However, we have birthday plans for her tomorrow, so she'll come around.

Always Smiling said...

Hope your mom is feeling better. As one of Tom's granddadughters I am still in a daze from everything. He isn't one I ever expected to pass away this soon.

Suldog said...

Mushy:

My sincerest and deepest condolences to you and yours.

Scott from Oregon said...

You appear to be blessed with a great set of familias...

Grandpa-Old Soldier said...

Hand Salute to him. My Dad had a military detail when we laid him to rest, and I wouldn't have it any other way.